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HOW to Short Stroke a 2TB storage drive?

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September 18, 2011 4:42:56 AM

I just got a new 2TB Hitachi 5K3000, its surprisingly fast for such a quiet and cool drive... I am going to be using it for my storage, while OS/Apps/Games are all on my SSD (120gb).

I was wondering IF I would benefit from short stroking the 2TB drive? Like doing something like this:

- Partition 1: 150 GB (My Documents)
- Partition 2: 350 GB (Music, Pics)
- Partition 3: 1.5 TB (Movies, backup of OS drive)

I read a lot about short stroking and I know it helps... HOWEVER, I got CONFLICTING readings about HOW TO DO IT?!

Most say, JUST PARTITIONING your drive will put the FIRST partition on the MOST OUTER EDGE of ALL PLATTERS! While some others claim that OS Partition just makes a "Pie shape" out of the drive making it USELESS for Short stroking.

Which is correct?

Can I just use Disk Management in Win7 to do it? And is it even necessary for my media? I thought it's more important for searching for documents or Pics, music to be on the faster side of the drive, than movies that are 1GB each.

Thanks

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a c 415 G Storage
September 18, 2011 5:08:08 AM
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The "Pie shape" theory is totally bogus. Hard drives record cylinder by cylinder, where a "cylinder" is the collection of all the tracks on all the platters that can be accessed without moving the read/write heads. All the tracks in the outermost cylinder are written first, then the heads move inward one notch and the drive records on all the tracks in the next cylinder, and so on. So when you partition a drive, the first partition starts at the outermost cylinder (tracks), then next one picks up where the first leaves off, and so on.

Frankly, for a data drive there's probably not all that much benefit in short stroking. Bottlenecks usually occur on the OS drive because of all the random I/O activity that takes place on it, and that's usually a lot less of an issue with a data drive. My own choice would be to simply put everything in one large partition. But I'd consider a separate partition for backups if the backup tool creates a messy folder structure that would mess up your folder organization.

Searching shouldn't be an issue because Windows 7 will build a search index that it can use to find files without having to actually look through all of the files themselves.
a b G Storage
September 18, 2011 5:31:59 AM

alexb75 said:


I was wondering IF I would benefit from short stroking the 2TB drive? Like doing something like this:

- Partition 1: 150 GB (My Documents)
- Partition 2: 350 GB (Music, Pics)
- Partition 3: 1.5 TB (Movies, backup of OS drive)

That is not short stroking. Short stroking would entail partioning the drive so you use only the outer half or third of the drive to minimize head travel. You end up wasting the rest of the drive.

alexb75 said:

I read a lot about short stroking and I know it helps...

But how much? And is it worth wasting the unused capacity? I don't think so.

alexb75 said:

While some others claim that OS Partition just makes a "Pie shape" out of the drive making it USELESS for Short stroking.

I'm sorry, but ... :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  Anyone talking about pie shapes regarding drive storage cannot pour p*ss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.
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September 18, 2011 5:33:55 AM

sminlal said:
The "Pie shape" theory is totally bogus. Hard drives record cylinder by cylinder, where a "cylinder" is the collection of all the tracks on all the platters that can be accessed without moving the read/write heads. All the tracks in the outermost cylinder are written first, then the heads move inward one notch and the drive records on all the tracks in the next cylinder, and so on. So when you partition a drive, the first partition starts at the outermost cylinder (tracks), then next one picks up where the first leaves off, and so on.

Frankly, for a data drive there's probably not all that much benefit in short stroking. Bottlenecks usually occur on the OS drive because of all the random I/O activity that takes place on it, and that's usually a lot less of an issue with a data drive. My own choice would be to simply put everything in one large partition. But I'd consider a separate partition for backups if the backup tool creates a messy folder structure that would mess up your folder organization.

Searching shouldn't be an issue because Windows 7 will build a search index that it can use to find files without having to actually look through all of the files themselves.


Thanks! Would the same theory apply to drives with multiple platters (almost all of them)?

Now, for searching, what I've noticed in the past to be slow, is going through thousands of pics trying to find something... if the drive is not fast enough, the pics take time to load/refresh... hence, I was thinking of maybe doing a partition for those, plus music.

Also, I got a 1TB external drive that I wanted to use to backup my Docs, Pics, Music... movies I can be selective. Wouldn't partitioning make it easier to backup to external drives?
a b G Storage
September 18, 2011 5:41:35 AM

Partitioning doesn't make backing up any easier IMO. As long as you keep all of your Data organized in proper folders then you only have to specify the folder to be backed up. You can even set backup to file types.

I will however make restoring the OS easier. If anything I would keep a partition for the OS and programs and another for all files.
September 18, 2011 5:45:36 AM

jsc said:
That is not short stroking. Short stroking would entail partioning the drive so you use only the outer half or third of the drive to minimize head travel. You end up wasting the rest of the drive.


But how much? And is it worth wasting the unused capacity? I don't think so.


I'm sorry, but ... :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  Anyone talking about pie shapes regarding drive storage cannot pour p*ss out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.


Well, wouldn't you do that if you partitioned the FIRST 100GB of a 2TB drive? If you are only searching within that partition, wouldn't that have a similar behaviour as to short stroking?

I saw the pie thing discussed here, as well as some other sites, like this one! They must be smoking something I guess!

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September 18, 2011 5:47:16 AM

PsyKhiqZero said:
Partitioning doesn't make backing up any easier IMO. As long as you keep all of your Data organized in proper folders then you only have to specify the folder to be backed up. You can even set backup to file types.

I will however make restoring the OS easier. If anything I would keep a partition for the OS and programs and another for all files.


I got a 2nd drive (SSD) for OS and Apps. This 2TB is just for media files (docs, pics, music, movies).
a b G Storage
September 18, 2011 5:58:01 AM

To the best of my knowledge short stroking modifies the HDD's firmware so that only the outer edge of the platter is available. This limits the movment for the read/write heads and can improve access times.

You can EFFECTIVELY short stroke by partitioning the drive. (I do this using a matrix RAID with my 2 300GB velocirpators). From my experience it works. However you have to disable the all services on the second partition like Indexing, and backup services.

I'm not sure what you want to do. In your original post you mention splitting the drive into 3 parts. Your current setup is the most ideal IMO.
September 18, 2011 6:03:39 AM

PsyKhiqZero said:
To the best of my knowledge short stroking modifies the HDD's firmware so that only the outer edge of the platter is available. This limits the movment for the read/write heads and can improve access times.

You can EFFECTIVELY short stroke by partitioning the drive. (I do this using a matrix RAID with my 2 300GB velocirpators). From my experience it works. However you have to disable the all services on the second partition like Indexing, and backup services.

I'm not sure what you want to do. In your original post you mention splitting the drive into 3 parts. Your current setup is the most ideal IMO.


I wanna get the best performance out of my 2nd Storage drive... ensuring the TOP end of the HDD access at 130mb/s is kept for files I want speed for, mostly pics, and docs.
a c 415 G Storage
September 18, 2011 6:38:24 AM

alexb75> Thanks! Would the same theory apply to drives with multiple platters (almost all of them)?

Well, it's not a theory, it is in fact how the drives actually work. And yes, it applies to all drives no matter how many platters they have. That's why I said "a "cylinder" is the collection of all the tracks on all the platters that can be accessed without moving the read/write heads".

alexb75> Now, for searching, what I've noticed in the past to be slow, is going through thousands of pics trying to find something...

What exactly are you searching for? With Windows 7 all of the files attributes such as names, dates, sizes, EXIF keywords, etc. will be indexed by the Search service, and searches should be very fast. But if you're talking about opening a folder with 10,000 files and waiting for all of the thumbnails to appear then that's going to slower no matter how you organize your drive.


PsyKhiqZero> To the best of my knowledge short stroking modifies the HDD's firmware...

Yes, there are some firmware changes you can apply to certain drives so that the drive will report a smaller size and won't accept commands to access logical block numbers beyond a certain point. But for the life of me I've never been able to figure out why someone would want to make a firmware change to their drive when simply creating a smaller partition and leaving the remainder unused accomplishes exactly the same result. What possible advantage could there be to in the firmware update that would warrant that kind of invasive change to the drive?
September 18, 2011 7:28:52 AM

sminlal said:

alexb75> Now, for searching, what I've noticed in the past to be slow, is going through thousands of pics trying to find something...

What exactly are you searching for? With Windows 7 all of the files attributes such as names, dates, sizes, EXIF keywords, etc. will be indexed by the Search service, and searches should be very fast. But if you're talking about opening a folder with 10,000 files and waiting for all of the thumbnails to appear then that's going to slower no matter how you organize your drive.


Again, Not SEARCH, like opening the whole folder of 2000 pics and going through the thumbnails to find a specific picture you're looking for.
a c 415 G Storage
September 18, 2011 7:08:45 PM

Yep, that's a slow operation. It'll help if you reorganize your pictures so that there are fewer pictures in each folder. I don't know how you've organized your photos, but for example instead of having one folder for all the photos you've taken in a given year you could create separate folders for each month and move the photos into the relevant folder.
a c 271 G Storage
September 18, 2011 7:58:29 PM

If you want to reduce the capacity of a drive, you don't need to modify its firmware. All you need to do is to create a HPA (Host Protected Area). SeaTools and HDAT2 are two utilities that can do this.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Host_protected_area

I don't mean to nitpick, but modern drives actually access the LBAs in serpentine fashion, ie they read 100 tracks (say) on head 0, then 100 tracks on head 1, then the next 100 on head 0, and so on.

See http://hddscan.com/doc/HDD_Tracks_and_Zones.html
a c 415 G Storage
September 18, 2011 10:50:43 PM

fzabkar said:
If you want to reduce the capacity of a drive, you don't need to modify its firmware. All you need to do is to create a HPA (Host Protected Area).
I still don't understand the motivation to do this when simply using a smaller partition does the same thing. I understand why you might want to use the HPA for particular purposes such as hiding data or programs from the OS, but for simple short stoking why wouldn't a smaller partition work just as well? I'm a believer in the KISS principle, and having to resort to specialized utilities seems unnecessary to me.

fzabkar said:
I don't mean to nitpick, but modern drives actually access the LBAs in serpentine fashion, ie they read 100 tracks (say) on head 0, then 100 tracks on head 1, then the next 100 on head 0, and so on.

See http://hddscan.com/doc/HDD_Tracks_and_Zones.html
That's a very interesting article, thanks for passing it along.

His description of "serpentine recording" is a little lacking, IMHO. Is he saying that the drive switches heads even though it hasn't filled up an entire track yet? I'm not sure I see the point of that. The disk drives I've been familiar with for several decades have always filled up one track, then switched heads to the next platter on the same cylinder, and so on. The drives only move to the next head when an entire track has been filled, and they only move to the next cylinder when all of the tracks in the current cylinder have been filled. The reason is to minimize head movement for sequential I/O requests - you spend less time acquiring a track on the same cylinder than you do moving to an adjacent cylinder.

That all fits his description of "serpentine recording", and if his diagram is showing the actions of a drive with 64 sectors per track then it's exactly how I'd expect it to work. But he doesn't mention cylinders or performance as issues, and I don't get what he means by "head loading" or why it's a concern. I feel like I haven't quite understood exactly what he's getting at...
a b G Storage
September 18, 2011 11:11:33 PM

OK I re-read your post and I missed the word "backup" in backup of OS drive. My backup drive never gets fragmented. Mostly because I just store files there and leave them be. I would just partition the drive into 2. 1 for all the documents and media files. And another for the OS Backup because the OS backup will often be modified. I don't don't see any performance benefit for keeping different media types in different partitions. Just IMO.
September 19, 2011 5:10:11 PM

PsyKhiqZero said:
OK I re-read your post and I missed the word "backup" in backup of OS drive. My backup drive never gets fragmented. Mostly because I just store files there and leave them be. I would just partition the drive into 2. 1 for all the documents and media files. And another for the OS Backup because the OS backup will often be modified. I don't don't see any performance benefit for keeping different media types in different partitions. Just IMO.


So, something like this?

SSD:
C: [OS, Apps] - 120GB

2 TB Drive:
D: [Doc, Pics, Music, Movies] - 1.8 TB
E: [OS BACKUP] - 200 GB

Right?
a c 277 G Storage
September 19, 2011 7:42:39 PM

"Serpentine Shelly. Serpentine!"

from "The In-Laws," Peter Falk to Alan Arkin
a b G Storage
September 19, 2011 9:55:13 PM

Yep that's about right.
September 20, 2011 6:18:43 AM

Best answer selected by alexb75.
a c 271 G Storage
September 21, 2011 7:41:33 PM

@sminlal,

AIUI, the author of that article is a Russian expat who works in a data recovery capacity for Seagate in Chicago. He is also the author of HDDScan.

I believe something may have been lost in the translation, but, like you, I believe that head switching would occur at a track boundary, not mid-track. I also don't understand why the author contends that serpentine recording would minimise head wear, or "loading".

Maybe these are questions you could ask him personally. In fact he invites you to "discuss on forum":

http://en.rlab.ru/forum/index.php?topic=695.0

As for your observation regarding a HPA, I have seen one thread at WD's forums where someone complained that he received a 2TB drive as a replacement for a 1TB. He insisted that the 2TB drive could not be substituted for the 1TB due to the capacity difference. However, he provided no details, so he may have just been having a whinge.

Other legitimate reasons for creating a HPA could be for maintaining compatibility with an earlier BIOS, eg one that is limited to 528MB, 32GB, 128GB. Some external cases are limited to 2TB, so 3TB drives are reduced to 746GB.

!